Casting and Directing Style of Three Directors Term Paper

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casting and directing style of three directors for the film Madame Bovary. It has sources in MLA format.

Gusteve Flaubert's 1856 novel, Madame Bovary has been a masterpiece in literature during the 19th and 20th century. Flaubert's motive for writing the novel has been to address the pretentious middle class and how the society has created the central character and heroine Emma Bovary. Her sexual escapades and the dull country life with her doctor husband depict the kind of life people live without much aspiration for real happiness. The novel not only inspired theatrical performances but also films. From the beginning of the 20th century to the end of the century, Madame Bovary underwent several change and interpretation. Each romanticized the story line through intricate costume designs, background stage design and mostly the choice of the actress who would be Bovary [Rey, 1992].


Madame Bovary is the story of a young convent country girl aspiring to live a grand life. However, she gets married to a country doctor, who did not return her excitement for grandeur or life of the upper class. When she seems to demonstrate erratic behavior after seeing a grand ball at a mansion, her husband decided she needed to interact with the world. They moved to a large town where she gave birth to a daughter. She has her first affair with clerk, Leon. When he leaves for Paris, she ends up having an affair with the local aristocrat Rodolphe. A turn of event made her indebt to the creditors. Meanwhile she grows bored with Rodophe and re-ignited her affair with Leon. In the end she is desperate for money so that she goes to Rodolphe asking for money. When he refused, she committed suicide.


The Directors:

Three renowned directors will be focus of this discussion. They are Jean Renoir [1934], Vincente Minnelli [1949] and Claude Chabrol [1992]. Each took a different approach to the novel based on the different standing they had during their careers.

Jean Renoir:

Jean Renoir, one of the French most admired director known for his casual approach to the elements of cinematography. Renoir's approach to Madame Bovary had been no different. Legend has it that Renoir got the offer for Madame Bovary over the phone and after that he wrote the screenplay and directed his movie in parts of Lyon. The short duration of the development of the movie demonstrate the concentration it received from the director. Despite the casual attitude, Renoir's Madame Bovary had been a pet project for Renoir.

Renoir often lets the details to become the invisible background and bring the cast to the forefront, giving the impression of realistic cinema style. In Madame Bovary he chose Valentine Tessier with the deliberation to portray has a woman and not as the young girl portrayed in the book by Flaubert. This has partly been with the motive to explore theatrics with cinema. Tessier had theatrical background in France. She had worked with several known artists and her ability to absorb her role in her acting attracted Renoir's attention. Her bodily attributes and face all contradict the heroine as young and virginal. Renoir on the other hand did not consider Madame Bovary as an exceptional production because of its subjection to censorship. However, it is a known fact that Renoir wanted in all essence to portray Flaubert's heroine in the light of the musical cinematography of the time [Burdeau, 1998].

Vincente Minelli:

Later Vincente Minnelli in 1949 cast Jennifer Jones in New York in his own style. Minnelli known for his dandyism and aesthetic tastes takes on the challenge of reproducing a piece of literary work repeatedly adapted by several other directors. What motivated Minnelli had been the aspiration to show how the tradition of dandyism is shared by society at large but no one is willing to admit it. Minnelli's dandyism did not match the American masculinity which had been one of the reasons why his lifestyle was rejected by those around him. Madame Bovary became his pet project because he wanted to create melodrama he experienced among colleagues. The melodrama he created in Madame Bovary is exemplified by Jones glamorous face and the social background he created for the heroine.

In his own perception Minnelli reflected the realism portrayed in Flaubert's work. He uses the story line to serve his own purpose. Meanwhile, his heroine had been chosen with the romantic notion to boost his filming style [Williams, 2002]. He presented Emma as a sentimental figure, whose sympathetic life generates empathy from the audience. However, as a result of his attempt to generate sentiments from the audience he loses the essence of the novel. He not only focused his scenes to the glamour of society but he omits several scenes that connect Emma to the realism of social commentary in Flaubert's book. This is the reason why in Minneli's Madame Bovary, Jennifer Jones' glamorous depiction has only the sole purpose of connecting with Minnelli's perception of life instead of the story line.

Claude Chabrol

By the end of the century American and French cinema industry have enough technology to meet all kinds of challenges but Chabrol chose Madame Bovary to address yet again the fidelity of a woman. Unlike the other two directors Chabrol managed to include most of the dialogues and scenes of hypocrisy, bourgeois world and the demand for grandeur presented in Flaubert's novel. He adhered to the realistic tradition of Flaubert to the extent of distorting the role and importance of the heroine [Goldenstein, 1989]. For example the ending scene where Emma dies of poisoning is portrayed as painful and ugly. Charles, her husband embraces her body despite the dribble from her mouth. Chabrol's Emma played by Isabelle Huppert is real, one who is bored with life and looks on society as a personal agenda to conquer. Chabrol followed his traditional style of the study of human behavior rather then focusing on the social behavior as portrayed by Flaubert. Filmed with the finest detail for expressions and scenario, Chabrol's Madame Bovary is a depiction of women and how they lived in France. The death of Emma is like an execution by society. One of the reasons why Chabrol chose Huppert for the role of Emma had been his association with her in his previous film Story of Women. He uses her onscreen magnetism and her ability to carry her role independently and connect with the audience as a key point for casting her as Emma [Corliss, 1990].

The Actresses:

Valentine Tessier

Born in 1892 in Paris with French origin and Russian mother Tessier had started out like any ordinary girl. Her career as an actress stemmed from her occasional visits to the Paul Mounet when she was sixteen. He on the other hand pushed her to take violent roles. But it was Jacques Coupeau who took her to stage level by the board of Old Dovecot. Copeau left for the U.S. during World War I and returned in 1920 to work with Tessier. However, Tessier's in serious stage roles was boosted by Jean Giroudoux. She wrote and played several roles before in 1929 she was cast as Madame Bovary. By that time Tessier has become well-known in the theatrical circle as well as the society. Casting her was bound to generate attention for the movie.

Jennifer Jones

Born in 1919, at Tulsa the next actress to attempt Madame Bovary had been Jennifer Jones whose real name had been Phyllis Islay. Jones career was lined up different versatile roles like Bernadette Soubirous The Song of Bernadette (1943), Jennie Appleton in Portrait of Jennie (1948, based on the novel by Robert Nathan), Dr. Han Suyin in Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Elizabeth Barrett Browning in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957), Lisolette Mueller in The Towering Inferno (1974). Her experience in the movie however did not hide the fact that she experienced the same turmoil as Emma in Flaubert's novel. When Minnelli cast her in his movie it was to show someone as beautiful and glamorous as Jones could also feel the burden of society.

Isabelle Huppert

Born in Paris, Huppert started her career young at the age of thirteen. She had her formal training as screen player from the Versailles Conservatory. Her first screen role had been Companeez' "Faustine Et Le Bel Ete." Gradually she got more challenging roles where she is cast in controversial movies like "Serieux Comme Le Plaisir," "The Rape of Innocence," "No Time for Breakfast," "Rosebud" and "The Judge and the Assassin." Well-known in Europe for decades before she caught the attention of Chabrol. Like Tessier, her previous role in Pomme and Violette has typecast her as an actress who can manipulate the audience. By the time she was cast in Chabrol's movie, she is declared a successful commercial actress. With her tendency to absorb the role of complex human behavior like nymphomaniac and neurotic Huppert fit in Chabrol's Madame Bovary perfectly.


Madame Bovary even when…[continue]

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